I first became aware of colorist Steve Downer due to his work on MonkeyBrain Comics’ Edison Rex. But as I quickly learned, he serves as colorist on a variety of projects, as well as artist on Dracula the Unconquered. Given the variety of Downer’s projects, I thought it would be insightful to discuss his craft with him.
Tim O’Shea: How long have you been a colorist?
Steve Downer: I’ve been working full-time as a colorist since 2009, though I started coloring as a side job much earlier, in 2007, while I worked as a T-shirt graphic designer.
To “make the wait for issue #2 less excruciating,” the Captain Ultimate team has released “a long-lost pulp adventure” starring the title character. The prose story, titled “Appetite for Destruction” and featuring a cover by
Axl Rose Taylor Stauft, is available as a free download on the Captain Ultimate blog.
“When the world’s greatest hero, Captain Ultimate, disappeared, a writer named Richard Richardson kept his myth alive through pulp fiction, comic books, radio serials, and more,” the press release reads. “While much of that material was thought to have been lost to time, current Captain Ultimate shepherds Benjamin Bailey, Joey Esposito, and Boy ‘Boykoesh’ Akkerman have unearthed a treasure trove of long-lost material from the notoriously reclusive writer.”
It sounds like we can expect more “lost” Captain Ultimate stories in the future. The first issue of Captain Ultimate can be found on comiXology, while Issue 2 is due in September. Check out my interview from last month with Esposito and Bailey for more information on the comic.
Artful Daggers, by writers Adam P. Knave and Sean E. Williams and artist Andrew Losq, is visually one of the most distinctive titles Monkeybrain Comics publishes. The series, which portrays a world 50 years after the end of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, considers the impact of bringing 19th-century technology into medieval times. Or as the creative team puts it succinctly: “Swords, Spies and Science.”
To mark today’s release of Artful Daggers #6, which CBR previewed Tuesday, I reached out to the writing team of Knave and Williams to discuss their universe, where kingdoms have been replaced by corporations. While the focus of the interview is their writing, Losq’s impact on the series is clear, as his collaborators admits they “end up cutting dialogue more often than not, as Andrew’s able to do more with an expression than we can with dialogue.”
Before closing our interview, Knave was happy to chat briefly about his other Monkeybrain ongoing (with co-writer D.J. Kirkbride and artist Nick Brokenshire), Amelia Cole. It’s an especially current topic of discussion given that on Aug. 14 IDW Publishing will release the digital series’ first print collection, Amelia Cole and the Unknown World.
On the heels of winning the Eisner Award for best digital comic, Bandette creators Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover have released a fifth free installment of Bandette: Urchin Stories, this time teaming Tobin with cartoonist Erika Moen (DAR!, Bucko).
If, for some reason, you’re not yet familiar with Bandette, the Monkeybrain Comics series follows the adventures of a costumed thief who gleefully leads a group of urchins through the streets of Paris, serving on the side of justice, except when an old-fashioned heist proves too fun to resist. A print collection will be published in November by Dark Horse.
Launched in October 2012 to supplement the main series, Urchin Stories, as the title suggests, focuses on the supporting cast, with each short tale drawn by a different art. The latest installment turns the spotlight on the newest, and youngest, urchin, Belda. The previous stories can be found on the Monkeybrain website.
As the Comic-Con International hangover sets in and the industry goes silent while creators, editors, publishers and publicists stagger home from San Diego, we’ll take a few minutes to try to collect the comics-related highlights of this year’s event. We’ll attempt to update as more panel reports appear and other information trickles out.
• Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Hawkeye‘s David Aja, and Building Stories by Chris Ware were the big winners at the 2013 Eisner Awards.
• At Diamond Comic Distributors’ Retailer Appreciation Lunch, Marvel teased the arrival of Marvelman — it’s been four years since the publisher revealed it had acquired the rights to the property — and, scheduled for January, a new wave of Marvel NOW! titles. In convention panels, the company announced: Wolverine: Origin II, by Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert; the return of Nightcrawler in the first arc of Amazing X-Men, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness; the November debut of Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe, by Chris Hastings and Jacopo Camagni; “Afterparty,” a two-issue arc of Young Avengers that celebrates Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s first year on the series; Steve McNiven will join Rick Remender in November on Uncanny Avengers; Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand, a Galactus-focused Ultimate Universe event by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley; and the January-launching Revolutionary War, in which writer Andy Lanning and “various superstar artists,” will resurrect some of the Marvel UK characters.
With multiple new Monkeybrain Comics titles launching today to mark the digital publisher’s second year, expect Detectobot, the new series by brothers Peter Timony and Bobby Timony (Zuda’s Night Owls), to receive a lot of attention for one word in particular: free. That’s right, the Timony brothers and Monkeybrain are offering the prologue to the new series for free on comiXology, beginning today.
As part of ROBOT 6′s coverage of today’s Monkeybrain announcements, we spoke with the Timony brothers about the development of the their world’s greatest detective, who happens to be a robot, and why they wanted to offer the prologue for free. They also shared some preview pages from Detectobot.
Tim O’Shea: Beyond the natural “Yippie!” response, please describe your reactions when you found out the prologue to Detectobot was going to be available for free on comiXology. Or was that actually your decision to make to a great extent?
Peter Timony: We requested it, and the fine folks at Monkeybrain agreed. We wanted to do a freebie to entice new readers. It’s a lesson we learned from all of our years selling crack.
So it’s no surprise that her new Monkeybrain Comics title, debuting today on comiXology, is about a Renaissance fair organizer and, as it turns out, detective.
“The comic is about the Renaissance Fair, a summer long affair,” she told ROBOT 6. “It’s a living, breathing organism with multiple parts (crazy, though). Avery Fatbottom is the organizer, a king is what it’s called. They are usually a bit self-absorbed and self-important. After being the fair’s accountant for years, she’s taken over after the death of her parents. But someone doesn’t like that and people (and animals) are gonna get hurt. She’s got a best friend in the fair and a little love interest but the fair’s the thing.”
I spoke with Vaughn about Avery Fatbottom: Renaissance Fair Detective, her day job at Fantagraphics, her own history with Ren fairs, and more.
Writer Anina Bennett and artist Paul Guinan join the Monkeybrain Comics line with today’s digital re-release of first episode of their creator-owned Heartbreakers, which originally appeared in Dark Horse Presents #35 in 1989.
The sci-fi adventure has gathered has gathered a growing following over the years, and as it turns out Monkeybrain Co-Publisher Chris Roberson is one of those longtime fans.
Bennett and Guinan spoke with ROBOT 6 about the history and influence of Heartbreakers, its digital debut, and why they partnered with Monkeybrain. To learn how real-world events helped to change the direction of Heartbreakers makes me even more interested to see how Bennett and Guinan plan to observe the comic’s 25th anniversary next year.
If you’re attending Comic-Con International in San Diego, be sure to visit Bennett and Guinan in Artists Alley at Booth CC-01.
There’s a new hero in town, one straight out of the Golden Age … wait, what? Captain Ultimate by Joey Esposito, Benjamin Bailey, Boykoesh and Ed Ryzowski debuts on comiXology today as one of five new titles from Monkeybrain Comics. The all-ages superhero title centers on a young boy and his admiration for a Golden Age hero, Captain Ultimate, who disappeared some years before — but makes his triumphant return just in time to save a city from a giant monster.
I spoke with Esposito and Bailey about the new comic, which they’ll discuss tonight at the Monkeybrain panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego (8 p.m. in Room 28DE)
Graphic novel sales | The top-selling graphic novel in bookstores last month was the 18th volume of The Walking Dead, according to BookScan, followed by Naruto, Vol. 61, Saga, Vol. 2, Sailor Moon, Vol. 11, and perennial bestseller The Walking Dead Compendium, Vol. 1. It was a good month for manga, which took 10 of the Top 20 slots; not so much for DC, which had just one book in the Top 20, and Marvel, which had none. [ICv2]
Comics sales | Comic and graphic novel sales were up in the second quarter of 2013 compared to the same period last year, but ICv2 termed it a “solid but unspectacular” quarter compared to a “torrid” Q1. Anemic sales in June were partly to blame — comics sales were up, graphic novel sales were down. [ICv2]
While many of us were enjoying our holiday, Comic-Con International organizers were busy releasing the programming schedule for Thursday, July 18, the first full day of the San Diego convention. The rundown for Friday, July 19 should come along early this afternoon.
As we’ve come to expect, Thursday’s lineup is a healthy mix of comics, television, toys, fantasy and film (although light on the latter, which take center stage on Friday and Saturday). The comics programming includes panels from Avatar Press, Bongo Comics (it’s the publisher’s 20th anniversary), BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse, DC Entertainment, Kodansha Comics, Marvel, Monkeybrain Comics (it’s that publisher’s first anniversary), TwoMorrows, Vertigo, Viz Media and Warp Comics.
However, that’s only for starters, as there are spotlights on Chris Samnee, Jeff Smith, J.H. Williams III, Dan Parent and Gary Frank, The Walking Dead‘s 10th-anniversary panel, and discussions about digital comics, gender in comics, LGBT webcomics and much, much more.
Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:
When artist Gabriel Hardman isn’t drawing comics, he’s drawing for movies. His affinity for films manifests itself in several ways, including his willingness to share his film knowledge via Twitter. Beginning May 15, that love of movies will be partially reflected in his new Monkeybrain Comics project Kinski (available for preorder).
It’s the story of a fellow who finds a dog, and the events that unfold from there. This project is a departure for Hardman, who acknowledges Kinski has “much more of a quirky, indie vibe than any of the other comics I’ve done prior. Coen Brothers-esque.” Hardman with a Coen Brothers bent served as great fuel for my questions (and while he initially referenced the Coen Borthers, in our discussion he’s quick to also cite Martin Scorsese’s After Hours and the Terrence Malick-written Pocket Money as influencing elements).
Tim O’Shea: In tackling a story that is a quirky departure from your normal fare, how did you settle upon making a dog the main catalyst of your story?
Gabriel Hardman: I like the idea of using a dog to spark the story because animals are chaotic. They don’t have the same set of social rules to adhere to as we do. Dogs don’t care about our problems! They can send the story off into unexpected directions. But even though Joe, the lead character, finding the dog starts the story, he’s using the dog as an excuse to ignore other things in his life he’s having problems with. Mainly his unfulfilling job as a bird feed rep. He decides he’s going to save this dog, no matter the cost. It’s a crusade! But crusades usually don’t turn out so well.
Chris Roberson has been thinking what comic writers are supposed to do in comics. While many creators follow the usual trajectory of creator-owned projects to Marvel or DC, the Portland, Oregon-based writer went from the Big Two and found his true calling, making his own comics and helping others to do the same.
A science fiction author, Roberson was ushered into comics as a colleague and co-writer of Fables creator Bill Willingham. However, Roberson quickly branched out, first with the Vertigo series iZombie, and then as the writer of Superman, putting him in the unenviable position of picking up the pieces after J. Michael Straczynski left midway through his much-heralded run. Although he turned in some great work in his short run on Superman/Batman, Roberson ultimately found DC not the kind of place he wanted to continue working.
Several weeks ago when I interviewed Edison Rex co-creator Chris Roberson, we had hoped to include co-creator Dennis Culver in the discussion. Schedules didn’t work out at the time, but happily, on the eve of the deadline to pre-order the Edison Rex trade paperback (Diamond Code APR130377), Culver’s schedule freed up for an interview about his co-creation.
As if collecting the Edison Rex issues 1-6 isn’t enough to interest you in this IDW Publishing release, Roberson and Culver have scored an introduction by the great Kurt Busiek. The collection will hit shelves June 12.
Tim O’Shea: How did the IDW publishing deal come together?
Dennis Culver: That was all [Monkeybrain Comics co-publishers] Chris [Roberson] and Allison [Baker]. From what I understand, IDW had expressed an interest in print collections fairly early in the Monkeybrain launch, and I was on board as soon as I heard. They gave us a fair deal and they put out great looking books. I’m very happy to publish Rex through them!
To celebrate the four Eisner Award nominations for Paul Tobin and Colleen Cover’s Bandette — Best New Series, Best Digital Comic, Best Penciler/Inker and Best Coloring — Monkeybrain Comics is offering the first issue for free on comiXology through the entire voting period.
The series, which debuted in July, follows a costumed thief who gleefully leads a group of urchins through the streets of Paris, serving on the side of justice, except when an old-fashioned heist proves too fun to resist. Bandette is every bit as entertaining as it sounds.